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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

St. Petersburg Bureaucrats Told to Start Working Out

ST. PETERSBURG -- Bureaucrats were ordered Friday to follow President Vladimir Putin's lead and take up exercise to set an example to the nation.

Putin, a black belt in judo and a keen skier, called on his compatriots last week to take up sports and cast off the country's image as an unhealthy land where people are dying younger. Now his native city of St. Petersburg has taken the advice to heart.

"Civil servants are not healthy enough. They need to take up sport," St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev said Friday, announcing his own officials would start right away.

However, a lack of facilities at the city council's Smolny offices may put a damper on the health drive, at least for the moment.

"We can arrange runs because we have a lovely garden," Yakovlev's spokesman Alexander Afanasyev said. "But then another problem arises -- not enough showers. People get sweaty, they want to take a shower."

The bureaucrats of what was once Leningrad will not be so easily defeated, however.

"I can't say the civil servants are already running along the corridors like goats," Afanasyev said.

"But I can say we will definitely think of something."